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March 6, 2013
This commodity was contributed by Martin Michlmayr
There are abounding means to actualize web sites. Possibilities accommodate autograph HTML files manually, employing a framework to actualize activating web sites, or adopting a fully-fledged agreeable administration arrangement (CMS) that offers a axial interface to create, edit, review, and broadcast content. There are additionally a cardinal of accoutrement alleged changeless armpit generators that can advice with the conception of changeless web sites. They transform ascribe (typically argument in failing markup languages, such as Markdown or reStructuredText) to changeless HTML, employing templates and filters on the way.
While changeless armpit generators accept been about for abounding years, it seems that their acceptance is increasing. FOSDEM migrated from Drupal to nanoc for their 2013 copy and kernel.org aloof formed out a new armpit based on Pelican. Changeless armpit generators are acceptable to address to LWN readers as they acquiesce you to about-face your web armpit into an accessible antecedent project, abutting it like any software development project. This commodity explains the absorption abaft changeless armpit generators, highlighting their allowances and functionality. It refers to nanoc as one archetype of such a tool, but the functionality of added armpit generators is absolutely similar.
Changeless armpit generators action a cardinal of advantages over activating web sites. One is aerial performance, as changeless HTML pages can anon be served by the web server because there are no database requests or added overhead. Achievement is added added because browsers can calmly accumulation changeless web pages based on the modification time. Security is additionally college back web sites generated statically are aloof collections of HTML files and added files, such as images. There is no database on the server and no cipher is actuality accomplished back the folio is requested. As a ancillary effect, no software upgrades of specific web frameworks accept to be activated in adjustment to accumulate your armpit up to date, authoritative the armpit abundant easier to maintain. Finally, as the armpit is aggregate on your apparatus instead of the server, the requirements for the hosting armpit are absolutely minimal: no adapted software needs to be installed, and the processing and anamnesis requirements are low as it aloof needs to run a web server.
There are additionally a cardinal of allowances in agreement of workflow. One advantage is that changeless armpit generators acquiesce you to chase whatever workflow you like. Ascribe files are simple argument files that can be adapted with your editor of best and there is a advanced best of ascribe formats. Markdown seems decidedly popular, but any ascribe architecture that can be adapted to HTML can be used. Furthermore, ascribe files can be stored in the adaptation ascendancy arrangement of your best and aggregate with abeyant collaborators.
Changeless armpit generators additionally advance a bland analysis and deployment process. Back you abridge your agreeable locally, you can analysis it afore uploading. This can accommodate a analysis of the animosity of the generated agreeable or added absolute checks, such as acceptance the HTML or blockage for burst links. Already you’re accessible to arrange the site, afterlight your armpit is aloof a amount of active your changeless armpit architect to accomplish the new achievement and syncing your files to your hosting provider application rsync.
While changeless web sites are not ill-fitted for every use case, they are an adorable another to a CMS or a activating web framework in abounding situations.
The use of changeless armpit generators makes the conception of your web armpit into a action affiliated to software development. You actualize ascribe files forth with rules that specify how these files should be transformed. Your changeless armpit architect of best performs the accumulation action to accomplish your armpit and accomplish it accessible for deployment. Dependencies amid altered files are tracked and pages are alone regenerated back their capacity or dependencies accept changed.
As in every acceptable software development project, agreeable that is accepted to several pages can be breach out. The best accepted admission is to actualize a arrangement for the blueprint of your pages (consisting of HTML headers, the armpit layout, sidebars, and added information). Nanoc supports Ruby’s templating system, ERB, as able-bodied as Haml, the HTML absorption markup language. You can additionally breach out frequently acclimated snippets of HTML code, such as a PayPal or Flattr button. These can be included from added files and it’s accessible to canyon ambit in adjustment to adapt their appearance.
A armpit architect like nanoc will abridge alone items and amalgamate them with a blueprint to aftermath the accomplished HTML document. Nanoc allows the conception of a Rules book which defines the operations that nanoc should accomplish on altered items. Nanoc differentiates amid abridge rules, which specify the transformation accomplish for an item, and avenue rules, which acquaint nanoc area to put an item. A abridge aphorism could specify that pages with the .md addendum are to be rendered from Markdown to HTML with the pandoc filter. The aphorism would additionally specify a blueprint to use for the page. A avenue charge would be acclimated to specify that the rendered achievement of foo.md should be stored as foo/index.html.
There are abounding filters that can transform your input. Nanoc offers filters to transform argument from a ambit of formats to HTML. It additionally allows you to bury Ruby cipher application ERB, which is advantageous to admission advice from added pages and to run cipher you’ve written. What I like about changeless armpit generators is that they accomplish it absolutely accessible to address content: instead of autograph HTML, you use a failing markup accent and let the apparatus accomplish the transformation for you. Additionally, you can run filters to advance the typography of your page, such as converting — to — or “foo” to “foo”. You could additionally address a clarify to accommodate images afterwards manually allegorical their acme and width—why not let a clarify do the arid assignment for you? While nanoc has a cardinal of congenital filters, it’s atomic to address your own—or to extend it in added ways.
Already you accept accounting some ascribe files and created a blueprint forth with rules to specify how files should be compiled, the armpit architect will do the blow for you. The accumulation action will booty every afflicted account and aftermath achievement by active your defined transformations on the input. You can additionally configure the apparatus to arrange the armpit for you. However, as mentioned before, you should admission your web armpit like your software project—and who wants to address cipher afore testing it? Nanoc allows you to run checks on your output. It has congenital checks to validate CSS and HTML, acquisition dried files, and to acquisition burst links (either centralized or alien links). Added checks can be added with a few curve of code.
Thinking of my own home page, I can see a cardinal of means that application a changeless armpit architect would accomplish it easier to maintain. At the moment, my armpit relies on a accumulating of HTML files and a Perl calligraphy to accommodate basal arrangement functionality (“hack” adeptness be a added adapted description). Migrating to a apparatus like nanoc would instantly accord me annex tracking and a able templating system.
There are a cardinal of means I could added advance my site, though. I advance a account of bookish publications, consisting of a capital basis folio forth with a abstracted folio for anniversary paper. Back abacus a new paper, I accept to alike a lot of advice on two pages. Application nanoc and some Ruby libraries, I could artlessly accomplish both pages from a BibTeX book (LaTeX’s bibliography system). This would not alone abate cipher argument duplication but additionally automatically architecture the cardboard advice according to my adopted commendation style. Similarly, I advance several HTML tables assuming the cachet of Debian abutment for anchored devices. While afterlight these tables is not too abundant work, it would be abundant cleaner to abundance the advice in a YAML or JSON book and accomplish the tables automatically.
Another advantageous nanoc affection is the adeptness to actualize altered representations from one ascribe file. In accession to transforming your CV or résumé from the Markdown ascribe to HTML, you could additionally accomplish a PDF from the aforementioned input. Similarly, you could actualize an ebook from a alternation of blog entries in accession to announcement the blog entries on your web site.
A acceptable archetype is the FOSDEM web site: the FOSDEM organizers internally use the Pentabarf appointment planning arrangement to agenda talks. Advice from Pentabarf is periodically exported and acclimated as a abstracts antecedent to accomplish the agenda on the web site. The organizers alone had to address some cipher already to transform the Pentabarf abstracts into a nice schedule. Now that this functionality has been implemented, nanoc will amend their web armpit whenever the abstracts changes.
Changeless armpit generators are an adorable band-aid for abounding web sites and there is a advanced ambit of accoutrement to accept from. Back abounding armpit generators are frameworks that acquiesce you to extend the software, a acceptable way to baddest a apparatus is by attractive at its programming language. There are solutions for Haskell (Hakyll), Perl (Templer), Python (Hyde, Pelican), Ruby (Jekyll, Middleman, nanoc) and abounding more. You can additionally analysis out Steve Kemp’s contempo appraisal of changeless armpit generators.
What’s bright to me is that the time of commonly autograph HTML by duke is absolutely over. It’s abundant nicer to address your agreeable in Markdown and let the armpit architect do the blow for you. This allows you to absorb added time autograph content—assuming you can stop yourself from added and added acceptable the cipher acknowledging your site.